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Corruption Cheat Sheet

BAM Cheat Sheet Corruption

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 With thanks to Larry Sharp and Dwight Nordstrom.

25 Years of Business in China: Interview on Tackling Corruption

Interview with Dwight Nordstrom

Dwight, you have been in business for 25 years in China, and not just any business, you’ve been involved in manufacturing in big industries, like chemicals and telecommunications, regularly importing supplies and exporting products. How big has the issue of corruption been?

Well let me just start by saying: This is real! This is not hypothetical stuff, it’s a big issue for us. I would say I have to deal with about 25 cases a year of substantial corruption-related situations. To put that in perspective with other common issues faced by businesses, in last 20 years, across our operations of about 5000 people in Asia, I have had zero illegal drug issues, a couple of alcohol related issues, I have had two sexual harassment issues of a serious nature to deal with, but the major issue by a long way is corruption which I have had to deal with at least twice a month. Corruption is a big issue.

Can you give us an example where you’ve had to deal with someone trying to bribe you?

We’ve had situations where we’ve lost business over refusing to pay a bribe. We had a speciality chemical and the representative in a wholly-owned German company asked for a 5% kickback, with 1% going into a personal account. That was a million dollar plus account per year and I don’t even know now six years later if we’ve ever recovered the value of the account. Read more

Lessons from the Edge: Dealing with Bribery in China

Insights from a BAM Practitioner

Dwight Nordstrom is a veteran of doing business in Asia for almost 30 years. He is on a continuing journey of learning how to deal with bribery and corruption as he leads Pacific Resources International, to expand manufacturing operations in China.

Don’t make blanket statements about bribery and corruption. 
This issue is simple, yet complex! It is good practice to talk about individual cases versus making unilateral statements. Brainstorm with others. Ask, What does this mean in this context?  Is there a different way we could do this? Is there a way we could still win this business? 

Have a zero tolerance approach in your top leadership. 
Within your own company leaders – especially in your purchasing and financial operations – you have got to have a zero tolerance for bribes. Have good frameworks in place to train, implement and evaluate that zero tolerance approach.

Be incredibly selective about what industry and type of business you get into. 
There are a lot of businesses I wouldn’t touch because it is such a corrupt industry. Select the type of industry very carefully since that will determine how much corruption you will face. Build your competency in an industry that is less corrupt before taking on business in more corrupt sectors.

 

Ask a BAM Mentor: Dealing with Corruption

Twice a month, our panel of mentors answer your practical business questions. Send us your questions!

Dear BAM Mentor,

My customs broker tells me I have to give a gift to the customs officials to get our materials out of customs. He said it’s standard, no big deal. I asked the pastor at our local church and he said it would be terrible to pay a bribe like that – it’s illegal and gives a very bad lesson to others.  I’m new in the business and to importing here, and our business may fold if I can’t get this out soon. Is this a time to die for my principles or should I go with “when in Rome, do as the Romans do”?

~ Contemplating Corruption

Dear Contemplating Corruption,

Over which principle are you considering ‘dying’?  Is it God’s call to honesty? Or is it obedience to the local church and, if so, is the church correct?  I suspect that untangling the issues will help.

It sounds like you live in one of the many countries where written law differs from applied law. That’s how speed laws work in the UK, incidentally – they are applied, but not strictly. Most western country laws against foreign bribery make an explicit exclusion for “expediting payment”, which morally can be classified as extortion by the official who is withholding your legal rights until he or she gets their bribe. That’s fundamentally different from bribing an official to get something for which you don’t have the right. Paying an extortionist is generally a bad idea, but it’s on a different moral level than bribery. I wouldn’t die over an extortionists demand. Read more

Lessons from the Edge: Inspired by Quality Coffee

Insights from a BAM Practitioner

‘Ben’ has spent a decade and more of his life in the specialty coffee industry. He has an unwavering passion for quality in coffee that has grown into a pursuit of quality in all aspects of his life – in business, in mission, and in relationships.

The quality of relationships in the company matter as much as the quality of the product.
In a sense, the quality of care for one another in the company is an equally desired product of the business. Let reconciliation have a major role in the company culture. Concepts we teach, like forgiveness, kindness and so on, become real and implanted in a persons character, in the context of relationships. This is where the real meaning of those company values comes alive.

Intentionally embody the mission in all aspects of the business.
I have realized that my mission is not to bring people into the church, but to help them to see Jesus. When Jesus’ values are synonymous with the company values, corporate life together becomes a training ground for life in the gospel. Business is a place where the values that Jesus embodies are taught and lived out through daily business life together.

Do business with excellence and ask God to show you all that he has intended for it. 
It is important to take business seriously and see it as something to be honored and stewarded as a gift from God, to be used for his purposes. It is important to invest my utmost into it and hope for the most from it. God designed business to create wealth and so I need to have a healthy view of money and wealth. To hope for success and growth is good!

10 Guiding Principles for Business as Mission

A good business as mission business will, by definition, have many of the characteristics of any well-run business. A kingdom business must be profitable and sustainable just as any other business. Integrity, fairness and excellent customer service are characteristics of any good business, not just a business as mission venture. As such, while important, those characteristics will not by themselves necessarily point people to Christ. A kingdom business begins with the foundation of any good business, but takes its stewardship responsibilities even further.

What follows is a list of principles that should underpin a business as mission business. First we list the basic foundational principles that must exist in any good business. Following that are the principles that distinguish a good business as mission business.

Foundational Business Principles

1.  Strives to be profitable and sustainable in the long term

Profit is an indication that resources are being used wisely. It indicates that the product or service being produced and sold does so at a price that covers the cost of the resources, including the cost of capital. For most businesses, profits are fleeting, and never a sure thing. It is common for businesses to experience periods of low profit, and even negative profit. Thus it is important to take a long-term view of profitability. Occasional windfalls are often what will sustain a company through periods of financial losses. For that reason a well-managed business will use extreme care when considering whether and when to distribute profits. Profit, and its retention, is not necessarily an indication of greed. Read more

Ask a BAM Mentor: Evaluating a Business Opportunity

Twice a month, our panel of mentors answer your practical business questions. Send us your questions!

 

Dear BAM Mentors,

What are the most important questions to ask myself when evaluating a business opportunity?

~ Business as Mission Newbie

 

 

Dear BAM Newbie

First and foremost, set your goals according to the principle, “Seek ye first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33). Then, ask God for guidance into a business ministry of His choice for you, wait for His answer with a listening heart and mind. Third, allow God to choose life and business partners who identify with your God-given vision and mission objectives by asking everyone who wants to be an investor or active partner in the business whether they understand, agree and fully embrace the vision God has given you. – Joseph Read more

Questions for Business Building

What are the most important questions to ask myself when evaluating a business opportunity?

When I first heard this question my reflex response from 30 years experience of running a business was… When will I get my investment back, what is the percentage return on investment and what is the risk?!

My more considered response is to ask three initial questions. There are obviously many other issues but these are those I consider the most significant:

First Question – What is the purpose of this business and what is my real motivation for taking on this opportunity to build a business?

I would ask myself, what am I really focused on – my vision, mission and strategy to bless the nations. I would consider the eternal rather than short-term goals for the business and would seek to discover how the business could sustain itself having once outgrown me and my start up team. Read more

Considering the Business Opportunity

What are the most important questions to ask myself when evaluating a business opportunity?

Probably the most important aspect of pursuing a business opportunity is to first determine whether you are the right person for the job. I would recommend you do a personal assessment (be honest with yourself, there’s a lot at stake here), and ask yourself if you have the skills and passions necessary to build this specific type of business. Beyond that, do you have what it takes to live through the highs and eventual lows that you know will occur through the normal course of operations? Evaluating your readiness, and determining if your unique skill set maps to those required by the business should be at the top of your checklist, as you prayerfully and thoughtfully determine the worthiness of the project ahead of you.

As a potential entrepreneur, it is easy to get excited about any new business opportunity. So much in fact, that an entrepreneur can quickly lose his objectivity and become blinded to the potential pitfalls associated with the business. Many of us foolishly consider that if an opportunity exists, it must be the open door God wants us to walk through. Keep in mind that just because a door is open, doesn’t mean its the right door for you. While venturing into any new business can be daunting and filled with uncertainty, it can also be a time of exhilaration, not to mention a lot of fun. But do yourself a favor before you journey into the unknown; check your motivations. Know why you are doing this, and know the risks before you take the jump. Read more

Ask a BAM Mentor: Meet the Mentors

We are excited to introduce a new regular blog feature for ‘The BAM Review’: Ask a BAM Mentor.

Ask a BAM Mentor will be an opportunity for readers to ask practical business questions to experienced business as mission leaders, business owners and consultants. Every two weeks we will post a new question and hear responses from our panel of mentors. Submit a Question

Meet the Mentors:

Christa Foster Crawford 
Christa has worked to end human trafficking and sexual exploitation in Thailand and the Greater Mekong Subregion since 2001. In 2003 she started a social enterprise for freedom, pioneering small Food and Beverage/Hospitality businesses to offer sustainable alternatives to exploitation. She currently empowers the work of other organizations through the Trafficking Resource Connection, providing expert advice and referrals, resource development and sharing, and teaching and training. A passionate advocate, Christa speaks, writes and teaches internationally on issues of human trafficking, sexual abuse and exploitation, and children at risk. She is a graduate of Harvard Law School and Claremont McKenna College.

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